Cathedral Forms College

Of Continuing Education

Officials at Washington National Cathedral announced the formation of a new college of continuing education, effective Sept. 1.

The Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral is being created by a merger of the College of Preachers, a conference center adjacent to the cathedral, and the cathedral's department that offers programs to a broader audience.

"We want to strengthen the College of Preachers by broadening its potential and range of programs," said Paul Cooney, chief operating officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, who was involved in the negotiations.

In addition to courses on preaching, the conference center's staple for 75 years, Cathedral College will now offer courses on such topics as interfaith relations, moral and ethical issues, biblical studies and spirituality. Opening up the college to a broader community could increase registration significantly from the 300 to 500 people who take classes each year, Cooney said.

The Rev. Howard R. Anderson, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Duluth, Minn., will serve as the first warden of Cathedral College.

-- Bill Broadway

Personal Growth

For Md. Inmates

Maryland's Division of Correction is adopting a nondenominational personal growth program for Christian inmates based on "The Purpose-Driven Life," a best-selling book by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.

A California prison was the first to offer the program last year, and state prison officials credit it with helping to reduce prison violence by nearly 40 percent.

Volunteers from Maryland churches will implement the program for any inmates who choose to attend. More than 125 have signed up for the first session today at the Maryland Correctional Training Center near Hagerstown, organizers said.

The program is a way for inmates "to really get a handle on who they are," said Mary Ann Saar, the state secretary of the Department of Public Works and Correctional Services, who approved the program for statewide use. "Anything that helps [them] focus their lives in a positive way, I think, is tremendous help to all of us."

A nonprofit faith-based group called IIMainstream Inc. in Bowie proposed the program for use in the prison system and is providing the materials with donations and a $5,000 budget. No state funds are being used.

-- Associated Press

Entertainment Planned

For GOP Convention

Michael W. Smith, a contemporary Christian musician, and country music performers the Gatlin Brothers will be among the performers who will entertain delegates at the Republican National Convention in New York City that starts Aug. 30, party officials said.

The more than a half-dozen musical acts announced by the party include country, classical and blues performers.

"Entertainment plays more of a prominent role in marketing messages today than ever before," said Frank Breeden, former head of the Gospel Music Association, who was hired to oversee convention entertainment. "Just like Cadillac uses Led Zeppelin to market its ideas."

Breeden acknowledged that most entertainers who engage in politics support Democratic nominee John F. Kerry rather than President Bush.

"For whatever reason, on the Democratic side of things, the celebrities who have an affinity with that party tend to be more activist and tend to get more headlines," he said.

-- Religion News Service

Dead Sea Scrolls

Available for Viewing

Visitors to Jerusalem may once again view the Dead Sea Scrolls, which had been in storage for more than a year during extensive renovations of a wing of the Israel Museum designed to house the ancient texts.

The scrolls, the oldest surviving biblical texts, were discovered at Qumran, in the Judean Desert, in 1947. Some were nearly intact, while others had been reduced to tiny fragments that scholars around the world have painstakingly puzzled together.

In addition to the scrolls, museum visitors can view the Aleppo Codex, the famed handwritten Bible from the 10th century, as well as never-before-seen scroll fragments excavated from Qumran.

The $3 million renovation of the Shrine of the Book includes the installation of technology that controls climate as well as a "facelift" of the wing's signature round white roof, which was modeled to resemble the lids of the jars in which the scrolls were discovered.

-- Religion News Service